OpinionJournal - Best of the Web Today: "This rhetoric about 'cycles' appears to reflect a theory of moral equivalence, but in fact it is something else. After all, if the two sides were morally equivalent, one could apply this reasoning in reverse--excusing, for example, the alleged massacre at Haditha on the ground that it was 'provoked' by a bombing that killed a U.S. serviceman--and hey, violence begets violence.
But America's critics never make this argument, and its defenders seldom do. That is because it is understood that America knows better. If it is true that U.S. Marines murdered civilians in cold blood at Haditha, the other side's brutality does not excuse it. Only the enemy's evil acts are thought to be explained away by ours.
Implicit in the 'cycle' theory, then, is the premise that the enemy is innocent--not in the sense of having done nothing wrong, but in the sense of not knowing any better. The enemy lacks the knowledge of good and evil--or, to put it in theological terms, he is free of original sin.
America ought to hold itself to a high moral standard, of course, but blaming the other side's depraved acts on our own (real and imagined) moral imperfections is a dangerous form of vanity."